The Importance of Professional Development in Meeting District Goals

Lena Eisenstein
5 min read

Schools are a place for both students and staff to learn together. Teachers and school leaders who regularly develop and improve their own skills and knowledge demonstrate the importance of learning, and that it is an ongoing process, to students.

The constant growth and development of teachers and district leaders cultivates a culture of learning throughout the district, while supporting and encouraging educators in engaging with students in their learning.

Research has shown that the quality of teaching and district leadership are the most significant factors in advancing student achievement. It is important to understand that for educators and district leaders to be effective in their roles, they must continuously develop their knowledge and skills to learn and apply the best educational practices.

Teachers continue to learn so they may support students in learning at their best ability. It is important for community and district leaders to support a cycle of continuous growth for educators, which in turn supports the futures of students. This cycle of learning for both educators and students has a direct impact the accomplishments and success of the district.

There are significant links between professional development and training, or lack thereof, and student performance in schools. It is imperative that district leaders and school boards prioritize opportunities for staff development.

When leaders in public education recognize the major impact that constant professional growth opportunities for educators has on the performance of its students, it is easy to make the connection as to how those improvements support district goals. When teachers and district leaders continue to learn and grow, they are working to support and improve the performance of the district and its students.

How District Leadership Can Support Professional Development

The school board and district leaders play a vital role in encouraging and supporting professional growth opportunities for staff. The district policies established by the school board are reflective of the district's attitudes and how it values professional development and establishes the purpose of staff development and recommendations or procedures as to how these opportunities may be implemented. Additionally, the board may request reports or assessments regarding any plans regarding staff training or opportunities for development to understand and determine the impact they may have.

Research has shown that in districts with high achievement, school board members are able to explain the activities in staff development that take place in the district and can identify the connection between the training that occurs and the district goals for students.

However, in districts with low performance the board may budget for staff development but are unsure if a plan for staff development exists or are unaware if structured development even takes place. School boards of low-achieving districts may make 'disparaging remarks' or hold a negative attitude toward staff development.

School boards can demonstrate the importance of these chances for growth by participating in their own professional development and trainings. This benefits the school board in identifying best practices, the qualities of highly effective boards, and to better understand the role of the board. When school boards engage in development, it helps the board in recognizing the importance of providing effective development opportunities for all employees of the district.

Successful and effective school boards know that even during times of financial uncertainty, it is still important to support priorities like chances for professional growth and training. Even in seasons of challenging budgets or financial performance, the school board still has a responsibility for the standards of the district.

School boards must provide some structure (tools, resources, guidelines, etc.) for district professional development opportunities to be successful. This may require some significant effort from the board and changes in how resources (funding, time, etc.) are apportioned throughout the district. The school board can support and foster a district-wide culture that values opportunities for staff development, education, and training through the commitment of funding and other resources, as well as by participating in their own development and growth practices.

Tools for Enriched Development Opportunities

Leveraging the right technology, a school board management software like Community by Diligent, supports and enriches staff growth and learning opportunities through the ability to securely maintain and access pertinent training and development information from any location or device. Community allows school boards, district leaders, and staff to easily access these materials from any device with internet access, anytime and anywhere.

This level of accessibility encourages engagement and continuous learning and growth. District staff and leaders are able to seamlessly access training and professional development materials, share readings for further growth, and allows for users to search for topics by keyword.

Utilizing a tool like Community, school boards and district employees can be supported in their effectiveness and efficiency to perform their best work for local public education. District leadership and staff can be empowered in their roles through streamlined access to important materials and documents to implement best practices to improve student achievement and district performance.

Technology can be a valuable tool that can support school leaders in local public education in performing their best work and encourage board effectiveness and enrich opportunities for staff development and learning. The right technology is key to district staff and school boards performing efficiently, effectively, and successfully.

Constant professional development for educators has a distinct and significant connection to student success and the accomplishment of district goals. Fostering a culture that values opportunities for continuous growth and learning is vital.

School boards are responsible for ensuring that staff development opportunities are supported by funding, staffing, time, and other allocated resources. While development opportunities can be viewed in a negative light, it is important to examine how high-achieving districts embrace and encourage staff training and development.

Districts must recognize the importance of and put into action intentional opportunities for professional development. Constant learning and growth for educators is essential to the effectiveness and success of the school district. When school boards and leaders prioritize and engage in practices that reinforce continuing education and development for staff, district goals can be supported and achieved.